According to Jan Azud, Partner at Ruzicka Csekes s.r.o. in association with members of CMS, the new Slovakian government still hasn’t completely settled in following the March 2016 elections, and with summer and the EU Presidency here, Azud says, “everything has stalled a bit.”
The Slovakian legal market is, Azud reports, dealing with commoditization and insourcing like the rest of the region. There are few changes of signficance among the leading firms in recent years, nor any real spin-offs of significance, and Azud doesn’t expect the list of international firms in the country to expand anytime soon. One persistent characteristic of the Slovakian law firm market is that it’s highly competitive, and the long-term trend is seeing fees decrease. There’s an increased awareness of the need for value-added services and special products at law firms, Azud reports, as well as the need to invest into law firm marketing, and increasingly lawyers have to be ready to compete aggressively to “get the work you need and to get interesting work.”
Last year was good in terms of the amount of work for the bigger law firms, Azud says, though it’s still difficult to tell whether this year will be successful or not. The trend is ok, Azud reports, and the economy is growing, but “Slovakian business is, to a significant extent, driven by public spending, so the government situation needs to get settled.” He’s optimistic, though, that things will start moving more effectively soon.
Turning to recent legislation, Azud says that Slovakia has expanded its current Civil Procedure Code into three, which will become effective in July of this year. He described this as a “complete reform of civil procedure,” and expects it to have a “significant effect on the legal market” — though, at this point, it’s difficult to predict exactly what form that effect will take. Modernizing the Code “should be a good step forward,” Azud explains, but ultimately “we’ll have to wait to see the actual consequences of its application.”
On July 1st Slovakia will begin enforcing criminal liability of legal entities as well, bringing the law closer to EU and American standards, as previously only natural persons or individuals could be found guilty of crimes. Azud expects this to increase work for lawyers as well, at least to some extent, helping companies with preparations and compliance, not to mention with formal investigations or prosecutions.
Finally, Azud says, the country enacted a new Public Procurement Law which became effective on April 18th of this year, transposing EU directives on public procurement. Reiterating his point about the significance of public spending to the Slovakian economy, Azud reports that, while the actual effect of the law remains to be seen, it is “definitely an important piece of legislation."